Friday, September 16, 2016

Like a Virgin

From Dave Brigham:

I've never been a religious guy, even while attending church school and the 8th grade youth group at my parents' church (my interest was held more by a cute brunette named Jonni than by talk of spirituality). Yet I love religious buildings, especially when they're quaint, and icons, the bigger the better.

This is the second post I've written in recent months relating to religion. The first was about the determination of one woman in a small tobacco picking region of Connecticut to build a church for her community (see July 19, 2016, "Tobacco Road"). I have a third church-based post in the works about the imminent demolition of a Catholic chapel in Boston's burgeoning Seaport District.

Last year, I wrote about the renovation and repurposing of a church in Boston (see March 27, 2015, "Blessed Renovation"), and also a one-time Methodist-Episcopal Church that may have been a gym as well as a Hindu temple (see December 29, 2015, "Gravity Can Lift You Up").

To see yet more photos of churches, all of them in New England, check out my Flickr album.

Today's post concerns the Madonna, Queen of the Universe Shrine in East Boston, Mass.

I first spotted the rear of the shrine complex a few years ago during one of my regular subway trips with my son. From the back, the building that houses the massive statue looks like an air traffic control tower. I did some research and learned about the shrine, so recently I set out to get a look at the front of this amazing icon and the plaza on which it stands.

Built in 1954, the 35-foot-tall statue is sited across the street from the Don Orione Home for the Elderly. According to, the Don Orione Fathers traditionally erect a work of faith beside every work of charity. Read this Lowell Sun article for the history behind the shrine, as well as descriptions of the church below the plaza.

In addition to the striking Virgin Mary statue, the plaza features a dozen or so beautiful mosaics.

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